“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”*
Wow. Where did the last few months go? Returning from the UFI CEO Summit in Italy, having met Pope Francis in February was sure to be one of the most memorable parts of the year.
So much changed in the months that followed that will impact our lives and the events industry forever.
Nobody can deny how challenging this has been. With events cancelled, jobs furloughed and some lost, entire supply chains shaken, it will continue to send shock waves through the industry for time to come.
Embedded in the challenges of lockdown, there are silver linings I hope we can carry forward beyond COVID-19.
A time for reflection
I’ve loved not commuting to the office and the many meetings. It has afforded me more time to re-evaluate my priorities personally and professionally.
I’ve missed my friends and colleagues from around the world and can’t wait until we meet again but also learnt that we can be globally connected without travel, sharing further and wider digitally than we ever tried before.
Being able to implement or expand on digital processes in the business has been our lifeline and built resilience into the DNA of our company.
As time goes on, we are continuing to look to technology to support us in delivering far-reaching value in a cost-effective and sustainable way.
With our FaceTime Exhibitor Masterclasses, cancelled this year, we have taken this time to review rolling out that content digitally, to reach international exhibitors on different time zones, further promoting the power of live events – something I’ve been wrestling with previously, without success.
Digital meetings have also meant doing away with train delays, traffic, parking, etc. It has freed up more time to meet more frequently. Engagement and communication with our community have never been better, and a hybrid with face-to-face will become the new norm for us.
A united cause
Attendance on our working groups has soared, as we’ve seen a greater desire to come together to share, learn and reinvent the wheel.
Listening in and participating on the myriad of zoom calls as so many great minds come together to create, collaborate and resolve has been nothing short of inspiring.
As an industry, we’re working through common goals to present clear, consistent messages to the government.
The primary focus of our government lobbying has always been to ensure the government understands our industry, the part we play in the economy, on businesses, on people and our need to have dedicated government representatives.
Together, with our sister associations, AEV and ESSA, our members and various industry bodies, our voice has never been stronger, and is something we will continue to reinforce on the other side.
Internally it feels like something has lifted. While the team is assuredly missing the office interaction, meetings have become more streamlined, productivity higher and it’s heartening to see them all looking out for each other.
The pandemic has allowed us to see the different faces of our peers in their very ‘human’ environments, as we’ve waved hello to family members and pets and peered into the living room.
The realisation of how human we all are has paved the way for more genuine, empathetic and supportive interactions.
A lasting note from a member
The solidarity, outlook and optimism from AEO members have been incredible.
Emma Cartmell of CHS Group recently said the following, which inspired this article: My business coach said, ‘A crisis is such a terrible thing to waste’ - and he’s right - our industry will come out of this much stronger. I’m learning so much, becoming a better business person and strategically looking at ways I can expand the business to offer other services, which will no doubt strengthen my business in the future.
* Stanford Economist, Paul Romer